Many, many years ago, when Caparica was nothing more
than a wild place, with a couple of houses, a very pretty but poorly
dressed child appeared; nobody knew from where she came.
An old man from the Parish of
Our Lady of the Hill took care of the girl who knew nothing about her
origin, nothing but the certainty that she owns the cape she worn. The
old man noticed that, despite being worned-out, it was a high quality
cape, probably belonging to a rich or even noble family.
Many years passed and the little
girl became a beautiful young lady. Then, one day, the old man feeling
himself at death's door asked her, as his last will, if she could cover
him with her cape, keeping him warm in his last moments of life, saying
to her that it was a rich cape. The young lady respected his will and,
when the old man died, she gathered the few coins left to give him a
respectable grave. Many days without food she endured and many nights
without sleep, but she had a clear conscience of having returned, both
in life and after death, the goodness of the old man.
The young lady remained in the
hovel and wore her years alone. The people that considered her strange
and called her witch, minded that she had the ritual of climbing the
hill and, in a ravish mood, prayed God asking him that, after her death,
the Divine Cape of Our Lady of the Hill may cover with His blessing all
those that revered Her in that place. After these words were spoken she
took her old cape and raised it to heaven.
This strange behaviour came to
the knowledge of the king, who asked her to his presence, carrying the
famous cape that everybody claimed to be spellbound. The old lady told
the king that it had nothing to do with sorcery, praying to God was all
Impressed, the king send her
away with a purse full of money and the old lady continued her lonesome
existence till the day she dyed. Near the body of the Old Cape’s Woman,
as people called her, a letter was found addressed to the king. The Old
Cape’s Woman discovered, just before her death, that the cape indeed a
rich cape because she found a truly richness hidden in its lining. This
treasure – she asked the king – should be used to transform this
coast in a land of dream and marvel with health and joy for all.
So, the legend says, Costa de
Caparica (Rich Cape’s Coast) emerged, honouring a little girl of
unknown origin who had, as sole possession, an old cape that was, after
all, a rich cape.
José Patrão (from the portuguese
original © 2001 Porto Editora, Lda.)